I spent my birding time over the past couple of days trying to catch up with the NEOTROPIC CORMORANT that Bruce Nott and Ken McDermott found at the Newburgh Rowing Club on Saturday evening. I was in Newburgh twice yesterday and had some rotten luck, missing the bird by less than 10 minutes. Today was a different story and I finally connected with the bird thanks to two birders up from the city (Heydi & Ryan maybe? Sorry I’m so bad with names). I connected with them when they first arrived, and not to long after that, they contacted me to let me know they had found the bird by the Newburgh Ferry. The bird was cooperative until birding bud Rob Stone arrived and got it, but shortly after that it was flushed by a pair of jet skis.
The NECO wasn’t the only excitement I had this week. I was focusing on breaking 200 birds in Sullivan this week. On Thursday I joined Karen Miller out at Haven Road and we heard a solitary Eastern Whip-poor-will (#199) calling. On Saturday I went to the Neversink Reservoir and got Bobolink (200) and Savannah Sparrow (201). Afterwards, I birded Hurleyville Swamp and was able to clearly hear an Alder Flycatcher (202) calling away. I was going to head home at that point, having cleaned up pretty good, but John Haas contacted me to let me know he had a Mourning Warbler calling near Cooley Bog. I ran for that bird, and although I didn’t ever lay eyes on it, I heard it well. The Mourning Warbler bumped my Sullivan County total to 203 and it was also a life bird for me (4 in a week! Craziness!).
Yard Birds 2022: (49) For all the good luck I had this week, it didn’t come home with me; I didn’t add any new birds to my yard list.
I can hardly believe it’s May already. Maybe it’s because it’s been unseasonably chilly recently, I don’t know. Anyways, the birds aren’t paying any mind, and it’s that time of year when they are plentiful and it just depends on where you go and what you try for. The highlight of my weekend was certainly the Caspian Tern I found yesterday at Cornwall Bay, but the rest of the weekend was good too, with plenty of new birds to be seen and to add to my year list.
I had some local (Orange County) targets yesterday, but this morning my goal was to see some shorebirds. In particular I wanted to see if I could get lucky with the Greater Yellowlegs reported at Hurleyville Swamp; it would be one species closer to my objective of breaking 200 birds in Sullivan County this year. It was my first visit ever to the swamp, and I have to say it’s a great spot. It’s a rails to trails so the walk is easy and flat, and the spot was jamming pretty good with birds. I added the Greater Yellowlegs to my list easily, as there were at least 4 present. Other shorebirds included Killdeer, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Solitary Sandpipers. I did not relocate the Least Sandpipers which had been reported there recently.
Afterwards, I came back to OC to see if I could track down any local shorebirds. The Camel Farm was a total bust, but Beaver Pond now has some nice looking shorebird conditions and there were several Solitary Sandpipers and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs present. I went to Wickham Lake to see if there were any shorebirds in all the puddles there, but I was surprised to see the puddles had all dried up this week. I was also surprised to find a distant White-winged Scoter out on the lake.
Yard Birds 2022: (39) – I didn’t add any new birds since my last post.
I’ve been on a little bit of a roll, getting some pretty good birds the last few days. Thursday evening after work I went to Wickham Lake, where I found four distant Red-necked Grebes. I put the word out and a friend responded by saying they had an Eastern Screech-Owl in their yard and I should come over. I don’t mind if I do! It was a beautiful bird and I got some decent photos in spite of the low light conditions. It’s been a while since I’ve had either of those birds, so that was quite a night.
On Friday I went into the office for work and decided to stop by the Newburgh Waterfront on my way home. I had a hunch about Bonaparte’s Gull – the timing is just about right – and I wasn’t disappointed. On a night where I had mostly Ring-billed and Herring Gulls and just a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls, the BOGU was a welcome find. The bird spent most of the time feeding on the water; I was enjoying the elegant manner in which it picked things off the surface of the water.
This morning I headed to Cooley Bog in Sullivan County, to try for the Red Crossbills located there by John Haas last week. While I didn’t enjoy the great looks that folks had earlier in the week, I did get to hear one bird singing and I witnessed a couple calling flyovers. There were plenty of good birds around, but unfortunately not being very accommodating. Highlights included loads of Pine Siskins, several Red-breasted Nuthatches, a singing Winter Wren, a Red-shouldered Hawk, and a couple of Brown Creepers.
From there I went to the area known as the Beechwoods Area. It’s located in the area between Jeffersonville and Hortonville New York, and it’s a good spot for some car birding, which was just what I was looking for since it was snowing and raining on and off. In his book A Birding Guide to Sullivan County NY, John Haas provides directions for a nice birding loop you can drive. My target bird was Eastern Meadowlark, which I found almost as soon as I arrived, on Reum Road. Otherwise it was an enjoyable drive with plenty of the usuals.
I added 3 Sullivan County life birds (Red Crossbill, Brown Creeper, and Eastern Meadowlark) for the day, moving me a little bit closer to my goal of breaking 200 birds in SC this year. My total is now at 197.
Yard Birds 2022: Holding steady at 33 – I didn’t add any new birds this week.
One of my goals for 2022 is to break 200 species in Sullivan County (I’m currently at 194). I’ve come up with a short list of possible species to try and catch up with, and Northern Shrike is on it. So, on Saturday morning I headed to the Bashakill to try for the shrike which was there earlier this week. I dipped on my target bird, but it didn’t prevent me from having a nice morning birding the Deli Fields. I ran into and caught up with John Haas (Bashakill Birder). John mentioned that it was a slow morning there, but I had 23 species, which didn’t seem too bad to me. My best bird was a Hermit Thrush that popped up briefly before disappearing into the underbrush.
I was back in Orange County for the afternoon and evening, spending most of my time at the Newburgh Riverfront. I enjoyed birding the river and there was enough going on to keep me entertained. The highlight was (3) first winter Iceland Gulls, which I can’t get enough of, but I won’t torture you with yet another pic.
On Sunday morning I tried for the Northern Shrike at Wickham Woodlands Park. With this shrike, I had better luck. The bird was vocalizing frequently and perched close enough at one point to get a decent shot. I was pretty excited, it was fun to actually spend some time with a shrike rather than just a few moments.
Afterwards, I headed to Piermont Pier. Earlier this week a Little Gull was reported there, and while I know the chances of seeing that bird were astronomical, I figured I would go and just enjoy birding the pier. It was good to see some different ducks – Canvasbacks, Ruddy Ducks, Buffleheads, and a single Common Goldeneye. Gulls were scarce and I only recorded the (3) expected species.
Yard Birds 2022: (25) – No new species since my last post.
Yesterday afternoon both Karen Miller and John Haas gave me the heads up that the LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL that was at Sullivan County Community College last week had returned. John was going to check for the bird today and let me know if it was present, but on an impulse I headed to the college first thing this morning. Fortunately the bird was present and confiding. Plus the early morning light was very nice on this very sharp looking bird. I spent some time and got some photos before moving on to Neversink Reservoir.
At the reservoir, my pleasant morning of birding continued with a distant Common Loon. Apparently COLOs have been sparse in the county, so both John and Scotty Baldinger joined me to see the bird. Other highlights at the reservoir included a single Horned Lark landing on the rocks briefly before moving on, an Adult Bald Eagle lazily flying over, and what I’m pretty sure was the call of several American Pipits on a flyover.
From there I went to Liberty to look for the Northern Shrike that has been seen up that way; I didn’t have any luck. I need to catch up with a shrike this winter, it’s been a while since I’ve seen one. I stopped briefly at Morningside Park on my way home, where I had 10 Hooded Mergansers, 3 Ring-necked Ducks, and a single Pied-billed Grebe.
Huge thanks to John and Karen for the heads up about the LBBG, it was my 193rd bird in Sullivan County. And, as a bonus, I wasn’t aware of it but I’d never had a Horned Lark in the county, so that was 194!
Those of you that know me or have read the blog for a while probably know that LAPLAND LONGSPUR is one of my favorite birds. So, I was pretty stoked this afternoon when John Haas called me to tell me he’d had a very cooperative LALO at the Neversink Reservoir. It was a little late in the afternoon, but I decided to run for the bird. On my John called me; he was going to meet me out there to help locate the bird. When I arrived, John was already there and on the bird. Running for a bird doesn’t get any easier than that! And the bird was a beauty, in beautiful plumage and was very confiding as John had indicated. The icing on the cake was a single Snow Bunting on the rocks; it was another cooperative bird. The Lapland Longspur was my 192nd bird in Sullivan County. As always, huge thanks to John for all the help.
While I was out birding this morning, I got a call from John Haas – he had a LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER at Morningside Park in Sullivan County. At first I was hesitant about running for the bird; I would first have to go home for my kayak and then head to the the park, it would be close to an hour and a half of travel time to get there. But then I thought about it and there were too many good reasons for me to go for it. At this time of the year how likely is it for me to see any more shorebirds in our area? Plus, Long-billed Dowitcher is a great bird that I don’t get to see very often, especially not locally. And, I would get great views of the bird in the kayak. AND, it would be a new species for me in Sullivan County (my 191st).
So I ran for the bird, and I’m sure glad I did because I had an awesome time. It was great to see John, and as I paddled up to him he informed me that the dowitcher was still present, and had in fact been joined by a Pectoral Sandpiper. It was very windy on the lake, so I wedged my kayak against some branches in the water not too far from he island the birds were on and sat tight. They weren’t very close at first, but I stayed put and they both moved a little closer and I was able to get some great looks and photos before backing my kayak away and heading back in. On my way back I stopped to enjoy a couple of Ring-billed Gulls on a couple other islands; you know I always enjoys seeing and photographing gulls. Huge thanks to John for heads up, he made my day.
It was a mostly uneventful weekend of birding for me. On Saturday I birded in my NYS Breeding Bird Atlas priority block and was able to confirm three additional species: Northern Mockingbird, Red-tailed Hawk, and House Sparrow. On Sunday I decided to change it up a little and I headed to Sullivan County, where I birded Hickok Brook Multiple Use Area. I was hoping for the outside chance at seeing/hearing Ruffed Grouse, but had to settle for seeing and hearing some species I don’t see very often in Orange County: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, Black-throated Blue Warble, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Magnolia Warbler.
I guess it was just a shorebird kind of weekend. This morning I went back to Skinners Lane; nearly all the shorebirds I had yesterday continued. Linda Scrima reported that the three Black-bellied Plovers, which I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post, also continued. I headed back to the west side of the Liberty Loop, convinced there had to be something good there. Maria Loukeris had the same idea and joined me out there, unfortunately we were both disappointed. But! When I got back to my car and was starting to head home, John Haas had put out a notification on the Mearn’s Bird Club app that he had a WILSON’S PHALAROPE at Morningside Park!
I hustled out to the park, and the bird hung in there. I joined John and several other birders as we enjoyed some of my best views ever of this species. What a treat it was and a great way to end a killer shorebird weekend. Huge thanks to John for locating the bird and for putting the word out. You can see his blog post about it here. If he hasn’t posted about it yet, I’m sure he will this afternoon or evening.
~One more shot of the Wilson’s Phalarope at Morningside Park, 05/31/21.~
I’ve been wanting to see a Porcupine for ages, but for some reason or other, I never crossed paths with one since I’ve been in the area (11+ years now!). Well, this weekend I saw three, lol. The first one was on a seasonably cold and windy hike at High Point State Park with my brother-in-law Bill on Saturday morning. We hiked for just over 9 miles; the views from High Point were impressive, the number of birds, not so much with just 18 species tallied. The Porcupine was far and away the highlight.
On Sunday morning I headed out to the Bashakill to try my luck there. It’s been ages since I’d been there and it did not disappoint. I immediately ran into John Haas and Scotty Baldinger with a couple other birders when I parked at the front of the Stop Sign Trail. I figured the smart money was on sticking with them – they attract warblers and birds in general like nobody’s business. I wasn’t wrong, the place was hopping with birds, but the first thing that got my attention was not one, but two Porcupines sleeping up in trees! What a weird coincidence! As for the birds, I covered some good territory and counted just under 60 species for the morning, eleven of which were warblers. There were also many birders out and about – too many to mention by name. It was good to catch up with some folks I haven’t seen in a while. Birding highlights for me included excellent looks at Blue-winged and Black-throated Blue Warblers at the Stop Sign Trail, decent looks at a high, singing Cerulean Warbler and a Yellow-throated Vireo at the Horseshoe Trail, and a calling Virginia Rail at the Deli Fields.